Rugby | SPORTS

Ex-All Blacks Fifita Cleared To Play For Tonga

Former All Blacks forward Vaea Fifita has been given the green light to switch his international allegiance.
14 Jul 2022 13:00
Ex-All Blacks Fifita Cleared To Play For Tonga
Former All Blacks forward Vaea Fifita (with ball) has been cleared to play for Tonga.

Former All Blacks for­ward Vaea Fifita has been given the green light to switch his interna­tional allegiance.

Fifita won the last of his 11 New Zealand caps in July 2019 and any hopes of a Test recall appeared to end in 2021 when he left Hurricanes and Super Rugby to join Wasps in the Gallagher Premiership.

However, a change in the international eligibility rules opened the door for the 30-year-old to pursue honours for the country of his birth Tonga.

The forward spent one sea­son with Wasps before join­ing Scarlets.

Tonga Rugby Union posted its welcome to Fifita on its so­cial media on July 11. He was cleared in a change of inter­national eligibility rules that has allowed him to play for his home island.

In his rugby career, he has won a Super Rugby title with Hurricanes. He also played for the Wellington Lions, won the most recent of his 11 New Zealand caps against South Africa in July 2019.

He now joins other former All Black stars Malakai Feki­toa, Salesi Piutau and former Wallaby Israel Folau in their switch for Tonga.

Fekitoa, Piutau and Folau were in the ‘Ikale Tahi squad for the opening game against Fiji, during the current Pa­cific Nations Cup 2022.

Fiji won 36-0.

Having ticked that key crite­ria, the back-row/lock would have to observe a three-year stand down from the interna­tional rugby arena before re­turning for a second nation.

While neither of the three participated in the 34-18 loss to Samoa last weekend, their next opportunity will come this Saturday when Tonga take on Australia A.

While Tonga Rugby Union has declared that Fifita is now eligible to represent Tonga, the match does fall just short of the three-year period. Cov­entry Live requested clarifica­tion on the matter and is still awaiting for a response.

Fifita made a big impression in his season at Wasps, help­ing head coach Lee Blackett to solve a problem at second row following the depar­ture of Will Rowlands and the long-term injury to Joe Launchbury that rolled into the 2021/22 campaign.

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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